November 14th, 2011 | by CHEF GREG HIGGINS Food & Drink | Posted In: Higgins in Mongolia

Higgins in Mongolia: Goat Hams, Camel Salami and an Introduction

mongolia
Portland chef Greg Higgins is best known as one of the forefathers of sustainable, farm-to-table dining in the Pacific Northwest, which he's been dishing up at his downtown restaurant Higgins for almost 18 years.

But right now, he's about 6,000 miles from Southwest Broadway—making sausages in Mongolia.


Higgins is there with Mercy Corp's Farmer to Farmer project, sharing his sausage and charcuterie  making expertise with local butchers. During his three-week stay, he'll be blogging regularly for Willamette Week. Here's his first diary:

Greetings from moonlit Mongolia. You might wonder what an Oregon chef who's obsessed with local, seasonal food is doing in the western Aimag of Khovd.

In two words, it's Mercy Corps. But in reality, it's much more than that. This is an ancient nomadic culture redefining itself in our digital age. I was asked to come here to share my knowledge and skill in making sausage and cured meats with people who have the world's greatest wealth and abundance of grass-fed livestock, yet struggle on many other economic levels.

 This is a ruggedly beautiful place—amazing people proud of their heritage, and in transition from being nomadic herders for millennia. Many still live in gers—heavy felt tents—burning coal, dung or wood to heat and cook with.

Today we brined our first goat hams. Tomorrow we'll stuff some camel salami, and make three other new products drawing on my background in classic European meat curing traditions. Each of these items are as new to these folks as they are to me. The wonder of it is in the interaction; we each learn in different ways.

I'm looking forward to sharing those first tastes tomorrow with my new sausage-making Mongolian friends.

In tomorrow's entry, Higgins visits an all-female butcher shop and learns to make chacuterie without pork (hint: it will involve horse and yak meat).

 
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